Friday, March 23, 2007

A take on C++ by its creator Bjarne Stroustrup

Wow, I mean simply wow. Today a friend(Amardeep) IMed me a link to a leaked interview(taken on 1st Jan 1998 and never published), supposedly with Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of then C++ programming language. The language that changed the world of programming and software engineers. When I was in college I was attracted to the world of computers and c++ gave me the way to actually contribute to the IT world. It created the base for me to understand how a computer works and how I can customize it to my liking.

In this interview with Stroustrup, the reporter thought he would get a retrospective view of the revolutionary programming language Stroustrup had created but instead by the end of the interview he was boggled. Stroustrup, unfortunately, had a very different take on his effort and went on to say that c++ was actually the result of a scheme he conjured up one day because he thought that the present programming languages were actually demeaning the importance of programmers by being too easy to learn!

Stroustrup thought that in the beginning programmers were royalty and had huge salaries but since earlier programming languages were easy enough to be learned by anyone, it resulted in too many programmers thus dropping the status of programmers as a 'demi-god'. So, he went on to create a programming language that was so insanely complex that most people would not be able to learn it and the few who did would stay high up in the software industry food chain.

To better explain his point of view here are a few quotes by Stroustrup from the interview-

"Well, in the beginning, these guys were like demi-gods. Their salaries were high, and they were treated like royalty."

"Well, one day, when I was sitting in my office, I thought of this little scheme, which would redress the balance a little. I thought 'I wonder what would happen, if there were a language so complicated, so difficult to learn, that nobody would ever be able to swamp the market with programmers? Actually, I got some of the ideas from X10, you know, X windows. That was such a bitch of a graphics system, that it only just ran on those Sun 3/60 things. They had all the ingredients for what I wanted. A really ridiculously complex syntax, obscure functions, and pseudo-OO structure. Even now, nobody writes raw X-windows code. Motif is the only way to go if you want to retain your sanity."

"Well, it's been long enough, now, and I believe most people have figured out for themselves that C++ is a waste of time but, I must say, it's taken them a lot longer than I thought it would."

"It was only supposed to be a joke, I never thought people would take the book seriously. Anyone with half a brain can see that object-oriented programming is counter-intuitive, illogical and inefficient."

Later he goes on explaining the 'illogical and un-important' features like operator overloading, executable size, typedefs, inheritance etc. Oh and did i say what he felt about C++ when he finished working on it he said, "Hated it. It even looks clumsy, don't you agree? But when the book royalties started to come in... well, you get the picture."

To tell u the truth I really hated this kind of response from Stroustrup, who was one of my computing childhood heroes। How often has it been said that never come face to face with your childhood hero if you want them to say an inspiration। In the end I would like to believe that this interview is not true but a search on Google says otherwise and that you should not believe everything you read.
See full interview here or here.


  1. Hey

    I had not been so deeply into C++ that I can cross-validate the things said by him...but I dont think this is true...seems to be framed sort of thing...often popular things are associated with such things...


  2. Yeah ... I second the abovesaid opinion ...Why would a creator defame his own creation ...and that too when the language became so famous ...